The Gallery Under the Stairs is a dollhouse-sized noncommercial art gallery housed at the Philadelphia Institute for Advanced Study, in the same studio used for the Eric James Johnson Memorial Fellowship. GUS is currently on an accelerated show schedule, with openings scheduled for every 2 weeks, with a clear focus on miniatures, small paintings, and tiny projections.
The inspiration for the gallery occurred when, while originally planning to build his studio, GUS curator Ramsey Arnaoot discovered that floorboards in the southeast corner had completely rotted away. Rather than rebuilding the floor over it, he decided to excavate as much of the corner as he could, build a frame around it, and turn it into a show space for small artworks.
The gallery's dimensions are 26" x 18" x 16" deep, with white walls and dollhouse hardwood flooring. Three of the walls are fixed, however, the fourth is hinged, so that when the gallery is removed from its place beneath the floor, the fourth wall swings open for easier installation. Additionally, this facilitates displaying the gallery on a table with the wall open, like a traditional diorama.
The gallery would not have been possible without the help of Brendan Kellogg, lead engineer, and Sophia Wang, December 2007 Eric James Johnson Memorial Fellowship Artist in Residence, who made it her residency project to build and complete a show in the gallery.
The gallery is named both for its position in the studio, and as a memorial to Ghassan "Gus" Arnaoot, who passed away in 1997.
The Gallery from Above
GUS from the front
GUS from outside